Ben Mclachlan and Yasutaka Uchiyama had the Ariake Colosseum rocking on Sunday afternoon at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships 2017 when they became the first all-Japanese titlists in Tokyo for 12 years. Her Imperial Highness Princess Mako of Japan watched the historic final unfold.
Mclachlan, New Zealand-born by a Japanese mother, and Uchiyama defeated second-seeded Briton Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares of Brazil 6-4, 7-6(1) in one hour and 32 minutes for their first ATP World Tour team title.
"It hasn't really sunk in," said Uchiyama. "We have been the challengers all week and today as well, but I noticed that they were feeling the pressure and at that point, we were able to play well and push our way to a victory. It showed us that if we play at our best, we can beat anyone."
Maclachlan said, "I am happy that I played my very best today. We got better and stronger with each match. In being selected for Japan in the Davis Cup a few weeks ago, I improved and learned to believe in myself. It helped me with my confidence. So this week, I was able to believe in myself at important points and didn't get tight."
The Japanese wild cards earned 500 Emirates ATP Rankings points and shared $101,440 in prize money at the end of a memorable week that saw them knock out another team in contention for next month’s Nitto ATP Finals, top seeds and recent US Open champions Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau, in the first round.
Mclachlan and Uchiyama are the first all-Japanese titlists at the ATP World Tour 500 tournament in Tokyo since 2005 when Satoshi Iwabuchi and Takao Suzuki defeated Swede Simon Aspelin and Todd Perry of Australia in the final.
Mclachlan, appearing this week in the main draw of an ATP World Tour tournament for the first time, saved three break points from 15/40 in the opening game of the match. The Japanese duo showed few nerves in taking a 3-0 lead, before Murray and Soares worked their way back from a 1-4 deficit to 4-4. However, Murray struck a double fault at 4-5, 30/40 to end the 30-minute opener.
Mclachlan came through a deciding deuce point at the start of the second set, the lone break point chance for either team. In the tie-break, the Japanese were at their aggressive best opening up a 3/0 lead before completing victory when Murray crossed to hit a forehand volley into the net. It denied Soares the 400th doubles match win of his career.
Murray and Soares are currently No. 4 in the Emirates ATP Doubles Race To London for a spot at the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 12-19 November. Murray is now 19-20 in tour-level finals and Soares is 26-25 overall in championship matches. The duo is 4-3 in finals this year (7-5 overall as a team).
The British-Brazilian team earned 300 points and split $49,660 in prize money.